Iran charges a foreigner and 3 dual nationals
TEHRAN // Iran announced on Monday that a foreigner and three dual nationals held in the country have been indicted on unknown charges.
The four, who have ties to Britain, Canada and the United States, are all believed to have been detained by hardliners in Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.
It is part of a series of detentions in the wake of last year’s nuclear deal with world powers.
The reasons for their arrests remain unclear, though the husband of one of them says his family was told by the Guard that she would be released if the British government agreed to their demands.
Quoting Tehran’s prosecutor, Iran’s official judiciary news agency Mizan named the four as Homa Hoodfar, an Iranian-Canadian woman who is a retired professor at Montreal’s Concordia University; Siamak Namazi, an Iranian-American businessman who has advocated for closer ties between the two countries and whose father is also held in Tehran; Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an Iranian-British woman who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news agency; and Nizar Zakka, a US permanent resident from Lebanon who has done work for the American government.
The four were arrested in connection with separate cases over the past year. Family members and representatives say they did nothing wrong.
Tehran’s prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi did not elaborate on the charges, though Iranian media previously accused Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe of plotting a “soft toppling” of the government and alleged that Mr Zakka was a spy.
He said another seven people faced charges related to the unrest that surrounded the country’s disputed 2009 presidential election.
Iran does not recognise dual nationalities, meaning those detained cannot receive consular assistance. In previous cases involving dual nationals, like the detention of Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, officials initially announced indictments had been handed down without providing specifics.
Those detained typically face trial in Iran’s Revolutionary Court, a closed-door tribunal which handles cases involving alleged attempts to overthrow the government. Rezaian was convicted but later released in January as part of a prisoner swap between Iran and the US.
While Iranian officials have not publicly demanded another swap, analysts have suggested the detainees might be used by hardliners as bargaining chips. Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, said as much in a statement to journalists on Monday marking the 100th day of his wife’s detention.
Mr Ratcliffe said the Guard told his wife’s family she would be released as long as the British government reached “an agreement” with them. He said they did not elaborate, other than to say it did not involve the recent nuclear deal, which lifted economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for it limiting its atomic programme.
His toddler daughter, Gabriella, also remains in Iran, as authorities seized her passport.
“That the Iranian authorities are willing to hold a mother and baby hostage for domestic politics and as a bargaining chip in their international negotiations shows that they have reached a very dark place,” Mr Ratcliffe said.
* Associated Press
Updated: July 11, 2016 04:00 AM